Marco Redini has worked for clothing manufacturer Trerè Innovation for 40 years, following in his father’s footsteps to become CEO. In that time he has transformed the firm from a specialist in hosiery into a producer of hi-tech sportswear sold under the UYN brand.
Here he discusses the importance of listening to anyone offering new ideas, the challenge of finding the right recruits and the wisdom he has gained from a former Ferrari boss.
What do you think makes a good leader?
A good CEO needs to think outside the box. You should not always make decisions based on what you’ve done in the past. Just because you’ve been successful once, it doesn’t mean that you’ll continue to be.
It also means that a CEO must not be arrogant. Two young technicians once came to my office and told me that they’d invented a new production method that enabled T-shirts to be made more sustainably in less time. Because they were only 19 and 21, I didn’t believe them.
I was so arrogant in thinking that it was impossible to reinvent the T-shirt. But it shows you that, when new people arrive in a business, they bring fresh ideas with them. So you must embrace such innovation, listen to the next generation and give them opportunities.
What single thing do you think would make your job easier?
There is nothing that would make this job easier. It is always a challenge.
What advice would you offer your 18-year-old self?
I would tell myself to keep moving forward and never give up.
There will be challenges – for example, with the coronavirus – where you think: “Mamma mia! What do we do now?” During that crisis we had to send people home and I wondered what position the company would be in. But, once you make it to the other side, you realise that you have grown.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in business?
Our biggest one at the moment is recruiting the right people. When I interviewed someone the other day, I could tell immediately that they would be a good fit for the business, so I told them I wanted them to start straight away. I didn’t want to risk losing them, because finding good employees is tricky.
What book do you think every business leader should read at least once?
I’ve recently been reading the biography of Sergio Marchionne by Tommaso Ebhardt. He was the former CEO of Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler. It was interesting to learn about how he solved his businesses’ problems.
What was your first job?
I have always worked here. I started out by following my father. At that point we were manufacturing hosiery. For the first five years of my career, I didn’t say a word. I simply watched what he did, because he was the expert.
What’s the best business lesson you have learnt?
I’m thankful that I was given the chance at the start of my career to travel the world and see what manufacturers were doing in places such as the US and the UK. It taught me the importance of being able to change.
When I returned, I realised that we needed to start making something completely different, as I didn’t see any future for us in hosiery. I saw the opportunity to transition into sports socks first and from there we’ve gone on to make base layers for skiers, running wear and now sports shoes.
What excites you most about your work?
I want to give younger people an opportunity to gain new experiences and find new inspirations. This was the idea behind our new research and development laboratory. I want this space to become the Mecca for R&D, but this will happen only if we have the right people.
Success for me is not about money. I want us to create the best sportswear made in Italy. To do that, you can’t be arrogant. You must give the next generation the scope to come up with new ideas and develop new products.
Lastly, what do you do to protect yourself against burnout?
I always enjoy going skiing and being in the mountains.